Buying Wood Fuel

Buying Wood Fuel

If you're buying wood to heat your home, it's better to buy it by volume than by weight because between 35% and 60% of the weight of freshly felled wood comes from water. Poplar is one of the wettest woods when freshly felled and ash (at approximately 35%) one of driest. Trying to burn wet wood will produce steam, less heat (as so much of it is being used to dry the wood) problems with the chimney (burning wet wood causes tar to build up in the chimney leading to a risk of a chimney fire) and pollution.

Seasoning wood as a fuel

Seasoning reduces the moisture content of the wood. Wood felled during one winter should be seasoned until the next and preferably a second winter before it is burned. Trees felled during the Spring/Summer will have a very high moisture content compared to those felled in late Autumn/Winter. Therefore, whilst a log first cut in January may be ready to burn within say, a year, it's necessary for a log cut in May to be seasoned for at least two years.

Whilst seasoning, it should preferably be stored under cover in an airy place such as an open sided lean-to. Wood should be burned when the moisture content is below 25% - 'air-dry'. You can tell if a log is dry because the bark will come away easily in the hand and the log will have splits across the grain. Ideally, logs purchased should be no more than 10cm thick. Any that are more than this will need to be split again to ensure that they burn properly.

Which wood is best as a fuel?

In terms of what type of wood to burn, it's worth bearing in mind that the heavier and therefore the denser the wood, the higher its calorific value and therefore the longer it will burn. Hardwoods tend to be denser than softwoods such as pine and spruce. However, some of the very dense hardwoods like oak and elm can be very difficult to burn, so it is usually best to burn them with another type of wood as well. Softwoods tend to be easy to light and burn quickly (making them very good kindling).

Some species like spruce and horse chestnut spit badly, making them a hazard in an open fire.

Some of the best woods to burn are ash, beech, hornbeam, hawthorn, crab apple and wild cherry.


Feed-in Tariff (FIT)
The Feed-in Tariff is a payment made to people who produce renewable electricity on a small-scale (up to 5MW) and it replaced previous Government grants as the main financial incentive to encourage the uptake of certain types of electricity-generating technologies.

Renewable Heat Incentive
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a financial incentive scheme set up by the UK Government to encourage people to use renewable heat technologies in homes, businesses and local communities.